E-Discovery in a Galaxy Far Far Away: Information Governance in Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels

by Exterro, Inc.

Exterro E-Discovery Case Study Juniper Networks

Who knew that behind the scenes of the battle against the Galactic Empire and the Dark Side of the Force, one of the biggest weapons in the arsenal of the Rebel Alliance was e-discovery. In the more recent additions to the Star Wars universe – the animated series Rebels, and the anthology film Rogue One – the driving force behind the actions of the characters is often locating, acquiring, and transmitting electronically stored information (ESI).

In one recent episode of Rebels, two droids and a young pilot are sent on a mission to an Imperial facility to steal access codes for a starfighter factory. One of the droids locates and steals the codes, while the other accesses the Imperial network. An Imperial Agent notices the unauthorized access and remotely seizes control of one of the droids, hoping it will reveal the location of the rebel base. But the rebel ship’s crew notices the droid acting uncharacteristically (he’s being too nice, since he’s usually an independent and outspoken droid) and becomes suspicious. When the Imperial Agent attempts to use the droid to hack the Rebel’s computer, Captain Hera Syndulla sends a counter virus back to the Imperial Agent which overloads his ship's systems and causes it to explode.

Likewise, in the film Rogue One, the plot centers around a small group of rebels who are trying to steal the plans for the Empire’s newest superweapon The Death Star. Set in the time just before the events of the very first Star Wars film, A New Hope (1977), we see the team’s leader Jyn Erso and her compatriots go on what amounts to (sorry, spoiler) a suicide mission to steal data. What’s interesting here is that the data, even though electronic, lives in a physical location in a hard drive stored in a giant repository. When the characters physically steal the hard drive, their plan is to escape the planet with it. When that option is cut off, they then plan to beam the data to orbiting ships, and once that happens, the data is then saved onto a disc (I would think they could transmit it on to the rebel network, but that’s not nearly as dramatic) which is passed from hand to hand throughout the besieged ship until it ends up with Princess Leia, and we run into the beginning of A New Hope and the start of the entire saga.

From an e-discovery point of view, many companies might have more in common with this scenario than they think. With data stored in both physical locations (i.e. hard drives and laptops) as well as in the cloud, the ability to locate and deliver that data, as well as keep it secure, can prove a challenge.

In a recent case study, Chris Sitter, Head of Global E-Discovery & Digital Forensics at Juniper Networks, discusses the process of mapping his company’s data and bringing information governance policies into compliance. One of the more difficult parts of the process involved a “misunderstanding, from ten years before, that all email had to be retained. Hard drives were pulled from laptops and yellow sticky notes were put on them, often with illegible handwriting as to what was on that drive.  They were stored under people's desks, in cabinets, in lockers, until they overflowed, and then they were put on pallets. When I came on board, there were over 14,000 hard drives from former employees. So, we inventoried all the drives and analyzed them, took a snapshot of the metadata, then went through the process of shredding the drives once we determined that none of the data was on hold. If anything was on hold, we simply followed our standard process.”

This is from a single company -- imagine what life was like for the Galactic Empire’s E-Discovery and Information Governance team!

While a majority of e-discovery cases still involve a lot of email, it’s important to remember that virtually every form of electronic data is up for grabs in e-discovery. And while it's one thing to identify and preserve various forms of ESI, it's often quite another to actually go out and collect it all. Different data sources have different levels of accessibility and present different collection challenges. Here is a breakdown of five common categories of ESI that might need to be collected for e-discovery:

  • Active: Data that you interact with on a regular basis, such as email and other traditional files that are stored on a local hard drive or network drive. This ESI tends to be fairly easy to access and collect.
  • Cloud/Mobile: By far the fastest growing category of ESI, this is data that is created and stored on cloud servers (e.g. cloud-based applications, cloud storage, social media, etc.) or mobile devices, outside the scope of corporate networks or formal IT oversight. Cloud providers have differing policies and processes with respect to accessing data, and it's helpful to familiarize yourself with those details before you need to actually collect the data. Meanwhile, collecting from mobile devices will usually require sophisticated tools and potentially outside experts. To gain a better understanding of the precipitous rise of mobile device ESI, check out our infographic, "The Value of Mobile Data in E-Discovery."
  • Offline: Data that is no longer in active use but is stored or archived. Even though offline data can't be accessed over a shared server, collecting it usually presents fairly minimal challenges as long as you know the physical location of the data and the system on which it's stored.
  • Backups: Traditional backup tapes or disaster recovery systems are designed to store data in the event that it must be restored. These systems compress files and are not easily searchable or accessible and therefore they tend to present significant collection hurdles.
  • Hidden: Previously deleted or fragmented files that exist on various systems and are usually not readily visible to regular system users. These files are highly inaccessible, and attempting to recover them requires specialized tools. More on hidden files below in our section on forensic imaging.

So, if we take anything away from the Star Wars universe, it’s that data management and information governance is a vital aspect of staying defensible. Sure, you may not be defending a moon sized space-station from attack or keeping the location of your secret rebel base hidden, but it’s right up there.

For more on this, check out our Comprehensive Guide to E-Discovery Data Collection. And may the Force be with you.

[View source.]

Written by:

Exterro, Inc.

Exterro, Inc. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.